A diverse dozen recognized by the Canada Research Chairs program

By Danelle D’Alvise, Research Communications, February 9, 2016

Twelve McMaster researchers have been awarded $11.4M to improve the health and prosperity of people across Canada and around the globe.

In addition to the half-dozen new Canada Research Chairs (CRCs) awarded to the University, another six stellar researchers had their Canada Research Chairs renewed to pursue their world-leading research programs.

“Retaining these talented individuals means that Canada can reap the benefits and outcomes of their innovative research programs, which will ensure better health across the lifespan, improved health care in our hospitals, cutting edge drug delivery technologies, and enhanced understanding of materials,” says Allison Sekuler, Interim Vice-President Research.

Sekuler notes that the process for renewal of a CRC is as rigorous as it is for the initial round and subsequent terms are not automatically renewed.

"The continuity of these Chairs confirms that McMaster identified ideal candidates initially and by doing so enriched the research focus in the strategically important areas of health, aging, neuroscience and advanced materials and manufacturing.”

There were a total of 305 new and renewed Canada Research Chairs in today’s announcement by the Government of Canada. McMaster University currently boasts 68 Canada Research Chairs.

McMaster’s six newly awarded Canada Research Chairs are:

Todd Hoare, whose Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Engineered Smart Materials will focus on the use of gel nanoparticles – tiny polymer delivery vehicles that act as containers for drugs that fight disease, infection or tumours. The associate professor of chemical engineering’s work with these ‘smart’ hydrogels will ensure that drugs can be delivered effectively for maximum therapeutic effect.

Paul McNicholas, professor of mathematics and statistics, is the Canada Research Chair in Computational Statistics. McNicholas is developing new approaches in statistical and computational methods that will allow users to make sense of massive datasets with many attributes of different types. His work promises to simplify data analysis and predictive analytics in everything from management science and disease diagnostics to bioinformatics and marketing.

Kinesiologist Stuart Phillips will address some of the important issues facing our aging population: What exercise paradigms combined with nutrition or nutraceutical approaches can effectively support aging skeletal muscle health? Can increased consumption of specific foods in combination with physical activity provide greater benefits than exercise alone? Phillips’ Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Human Skeletal Muscle Health in Aging will help identify the winning formula for delaying sarcopenia and improving the health and mobility of our aging population.

Brian Timmons, associate professor, pediatrics has been awarded a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Child Health and Exercise Medicine to chart a new course in pediatric exercise medicine and immunology. Experimenting with novel approaches to understand the mechanisms that translate exercise into skeletal muscle during growth, Timmons is shedding new light on the physical-activity-to-health connection in young children.

Hsein Seow Canada Research Chair in Palliative Care and Health System Innovation (Tier 2) is advancing the field of quality indicator development for end-of-life cancer care, and identifying the gaps that need further attention. The research done by Seow –an associate professor in the department of oncology – will result in the development of new quality indicators and system performance measurements that can better inform policymaking decisions around how palliative care should be delivered and by whom, how early it should start, and how intensive it should be.

Engineering physicist Leyla Soleymani has been awarded the Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Miniaturized Biomedical Devices. Soleymani is developing new fabrication processes, materials, and devices that will enable the rapid development and commercialization of application-specific, handheld, point-of-care diagnostic systems. She employs ink-based fabrication methods to create structurally-tuned solid-phase electronics functionalized with bio-receptors. This allows multiple biomedical devices for processing clinical samples and detecting genetic markers to be miniaturized and created on a single scalable and inexpensive system.

The following CRCs saw their existing Chairs renewed:

  • Patrick Bennett, Canada Research Chair in Vision Science – Tier1
  • Gianluigi Botton, Canada Research Chair in Electron Microscopy of Nanoscale Materials – Tier 1
  • Deborah Cook, Canada Research Chair in Research Transfer in Intensive Care – Tier 1
  • Brian Coombes, Canada Research Chair in Infectious Disease Pathogenesis – Tier 2
  • David Meyre, Canada Research Chair in Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics – Tier 2
  • Jeffrey Weitz, Canada Research Chair in Thrombosis – Tier 1

There are two types of Canada Research Chairs:

Tier 1 Chairs, tenable for seven years and renewable, are for outstanding researchers acknowledged by their peers as world leaders in their fields. For each Tier 1 Chair, the university receives $200,000 annually for seven years.

Tier 2 Chairs, tenable for five years and renewable once, are for exceptional emerging researchers, acknowledged by their peers as having the potential to lead in their field. For each Tier 2 Chair, the university receives $100,000 annually for five years.